The Emotional Rollercoaster of Going Viral

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”–Andy Warhol

I wrote my first article on Medium back in October of 2015. I’ve been publishing on the internet for much, much longer. I’m not an internet celebrity and I don’t have millions of followers on any platform–or combined for that matter. I’m a designer and once in a while I write stuff. I’ve been pushing myself to write more and when you do that, sometimes lightning strikes.

On Wednesday, August 2nd, I published my rant about e-commerce payment buttons. This article was an attempt to catalog some personal frustration with these buttons and create a little awareness around my UI kit as well. I cross posted to UX Planet, where I’ve contributed before, so that wasn’t abnormal. To be honest, I did not expect a lot of interest in a button article.

I was very wrong…

Wednesday, August 2nd: The article is posted

That Wednesday (the 2nd) I got more traffic than usual. Five times more! This felt great. I wrote something and people are into it–hell yeah.

Thursday, August 3rd: All hell breaks loose

Over 2800 people checked out my article. This is a ten times jump from the day before! What is going on? Do people love buttons, or love hating buttons as much as I do? Not possible.

I noticed at this point a few signs of where this might be going. First, Sidebar.io added my article in their daily email and web newsletter. They only post 5 links a day, so this alone was big. My next clue was that I was getting a ton of Medium recommends. The recommends are harder to track and Medium isn’t totally transparent on what these mean beyond the simple fact that someone gave you a heart-click.

At this point I started checking and re-checking my Medium stats screen for constant updates on the views and recommends. I was elated and blown away by the attention.

Friday, August 4th: Onward and Upward

The momentum continues…but at a slower pace. Friday, who wants to read about buttons on a Friday? Well, over 2900 people checked out the article.

I was very convinced that this was the end of my ride. It’s Friday, everyone will go home, enjoy the weekend and move on to something more important. Game of Thrones, politics or pretty much anything could be more interesting than buttons.

I felt a great satisfaction as well–I wrote words and a lot of people read them. This was new for me and all was well. Maybe I should keep at this writing thing?

Saturday, August 5th: Cool!

My reading habits are very different than those of much of the internet world. This is what I learned on Saturday. It seems that people do read about buttons on the weekend and in large numbers. Another 2600 people checked out the article.

So, that’s news to me (and maybe no one else) but great, more readers. Thumbs up to reading on the weekend! In other news, Medium added my article to the ‘Top Stories’ section. I don’t know if this is part of the algorithm on Medium, so I have no idea how many people were seeing what I was seeing, but still…amazing.

I’ll take 3rd place in this race any day

Sunday, August 6th: Whoa!

Then things got crazy. Sunday I got almost 4500 views on my article. My article was picking up steam all over the place and the Medium nod must have helped as well. I started to wonder if my article would continue into the next week. Could this keep going?

The pride was fully elevated by this point. I was still checking non-stop to see my numbers jumping by the minute.

Monday, August 7th: Don’t Blink

This was the day that I was fearing. The new week, new news, new links–who wants to see last week’s button article? Amazingly, it kept on trucking along with another 3500 views.

At this point, I’m thinking that this could keep on going. It’s down from Sunday, but still a ton of traffic for a Monday, right? Logically, I’m seeing the end coming. But emotionally, I want this to keep going on forever.

Tuesday, August 8th: The Beginning of the End

In all of my time writing on Medium, before this button piece, I never had a day as good as this Tuesday. That was no consolation.

I should have been super happy with another 1700 views, but no! We like attention and one second it’s there and the next it’s fading quickly. It’s a demoralizing feeling. Can you fix it? What else can you write, quick! Are there more buttons to write about? Answer every comment, hurry.

Wednesday, August 9th: Reality

Under 1000 new views. That’s still a ton of people, but a fraction of the peak days. The trend line is clear now, downward.

The stats checks are less fun now. The activity isn’t exciting and after the blur of the past week, a few hundred views don’t get the blood pumping like before. It’s amazing how quickly we become spoiled by success, however minimal. It’s amazing anybody doesn’t anything great after their first big win. How many bands have made awful second albums?

Thursday, August 10th: Desolation (not really)

Just a hair over 500 new views on Thursday. Friday will be slow, I can just feel it now. My fifteen minutes of fame is at its end.

There’s a touch of pride still bouncing around after flying so high–but it doesn’t make me feel better at the moment.

Friday, August 11th: Lower

Another day another 500 (barely) views. There was a time, just a week ago, when 500 views of anything I wrote would have been amazing.

Saturday, August 12th: False Hope

Over 1000 views!? Will the weekend save me?

Sunday, August 13th: Nope

Under 500 views for the day. I have no idea what yesterday was about. Medium is toying with my emotions.

And that is the story so far. I expect that I’ll continue to see a few hundred views a day as this story continues to bounce around the web. I don’t know why this one clicked more than other things that I’ve written. I don’t even think it’s the best article, but timing is everything and it’s clear that there’s some speck of truth, a germ of something that people responded to. It was an honest article and I tried to do a good job when putting it together–so in the end I can take that with me in the future.

Write from the heart.
Be honest.
Try and do a good job.

Simple stuff, but really easy to forget. Last but certainly not least. Be grateful for the audience that you have and extra love goes out to my friends who helped proof read everything before I hit publish. You saved me from many typos and poorly worded sentences. I hope to return the favor many times over in the future.

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designer, artist, skateboarder and video gamer

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John Freeborn

John Freeborn

designer, artist, skateboarder and video gamer

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